WILLIAM MARSH RICE UNIVERSITY
Bridge infrastructure owners are challenged to effectively manage risks not only from aging and deterioration but also from natural hazards, such as earthquakes or storm surge. These difficulties are stimulating an emerging trend of instrumentation and condition assessment of bridges. This project will synthesize newly available bridge condition datasets into bridge system and bridge network reliability and risk metrics for multiple hazards, and promote effective interventions at the bridge system and network level. Three primary research goals support this effort: (1) To update models of bridge vulnerability from natural hazards with data on in-field condition. (2) To enable a network of smart bridges capable inferring condition status and reliability under multiple hazards given limited data from sample instrumentation sites. (3) To identify critical bridges and required upgrades that ensure uniform network-level performance through a new nested inverse reliability method. Integrating the new tools for rapid fragility assessment and inference modeling within the novel inverse reliability method provides an approach to effectively invest funds to achieve target network-level performance goals.
The ability to rapidly communicate risks, flag sources of network vulnerability, project future risks, and provide actionable network-level intervention will help avoid future catastrophic events, save lives, and present economic means for achieving infrastructure safety. Accomplishment of the project goals will provide a solid framework for integrating monitoring data within the context of multi-hazard systems risk, and can serve as a benchmark systems approach with extensive applications to other fields. Working closely with collaborating agencies will help ensure infusion in next generation maintenance programs, emergency management plans, and bridge retrofit guidelines. The integrated research and education program will have a broad impact on the preparation and experiences of future generations of IT and engineering integrators, and directly addresses the need to engage and recruit a diverse pool of students. This ambitious program leveraging existing University resources accomplishes these goals through such activities as student community forums, revitalized undergraduate curriculum, and targeted interactive K-12 outreach. The project addresses a workforce shortage in the critical area of civil infrastructure protection, and prepares students to contribute to public service and infrastructure sectors by using real-world educational experiences and by emphasizing the importance of integrating information technology and engineering.